We speak to Christophe Colinet, smart city project manager in Bordeaux, one of the signatories of our Green Digital Charter, about what becoming smarter means for his city.

Can you describe your role in the city in a few words?

I joined the city of Bordeaux in 2005 as head of operational maintenance for infrastructure for the city’s servers. In 2008, I created a new R&D service dedicated to innovative technical solutions adapted to Bordeaux’s information system, and then in 2012 I took over the digital territory management. At the beginning of this year, I joined the Metropolis administration following a partnership between the city of Bordeaux, eight surrounding cities and the agglomeration to create a single digital department. As smart city project manager, I’m now in charge of smart city and European digital projects for the metropolis area.

What does ‘smart city’ mean to Bordeaux?

For Bordeaux, the smart city is a new societal model that puts citizens, businesses and all territorial stakeholders at the centre of the community’s concerns. The European Innovation Partnership’s (EIP) definition reflects this approach: ‘Smart cities should be regarded as systems of people interacting with and using flows of energy, materials, services, and financing  to catalyse sustainable economic development, resilience and high quality of life; these flows and interactions become smart through making strategic use of information and communication infrastructure and services in a process of transparent urban planning and management that is responsive to the social and economic needs of society.’

Do you have a smart city strategy or plan in place?

Given the new organisation in our city, our smart city strategy is not yet in place, but still in progress. We aim to publish it later this year or in early 2017.

How will you measure or evaluate its results?

The strategy is still being defined, but I will propose using the CITYkeys key performance indicators for smart cities to assess the progress of our smart city strategy.

From your experience, what are the main challenges Bordeaux faces in the transition to a ‘smarter’ city?

The main challenge is getting the support and strong political backing to assume the transition to become a smarter city. This is a subject that should be dealt with at the highest political level. With that in place, the supporting administrative organisation can deliver the necessary services based on this political will.

What is the role of the citizens? How are you involving them in this effort?

Over the last two to three years, we have launched various initiatives involving citizens in building the smart city, but as yet not on a large scale. For example, 100 families are now involved in an incentive programme for energy management called ‘Familles à énergie positive’.

Another programme called ‘Les pionniers’ allowed us to recruit 100 citizens to evaluate mobile applications and other web services provided by the metropolis.

Bordeaux is one of the Green Digital Charter signatories. How do you expect to benefit from that initiative?

Bordeaux already benefits from signing the charter. It has allowed us to build inter-departmental working groups that are live for a period of two years in the city of Bordeaux, and these are now spreading to the metropolis departments. In my opinion, our signature of the charter was the first building block in our smart city dissemination strategy.

Can you pick one idea or project that the city feels proud of and you would like to share with us?

Compass 4D is a project of which we are proud as it brings together all the criteria we seek to implement in the Bordeaux Smart City project. It is a transversal project, which we share at European level with five other cities. It involves citizens, local businesses and all communities and provides services that aim to build a more sustainable and secure city with a higher quality of life.

EUROCITIES smart cities month takes place from 17 May until 17 June. Follow us on Twitter @EUROCITIEStweet and join the campaign via #smartercities